Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Edward Pierre's Designs

Much of the Pierre and Wright Architectural Records Collection has recently come back from being scanned into our Digital Media Repository. For unprecedented access to a large number of images from this collection, go to

Digitization of any collection requires quite a lot of sorting to determine which images are to be scanned, and then re-integration of the collection once the scanning process is complete. We are currently re-boxing the collection and I discovered this very small photostat of a drawing for the Chevrolet Sales and Service building in Kokomo, Indiana, designed by Edward Pierre in the 1950s or early 1960s.

Pierre, who began his architectural career designing Art Nouveau and Art Deco inspired buildings in the early 20th century, embraced Modernist designs as they evolved. It is evident he wasn't rigid in his design sense (such as someone like Louis Sullivan), but you can, however, see similarities in his design principles that are translated through the changing architecture of his time.

This is evident in his work for two car-related buildings he designed. The first, the Rose Tire Company building from 1930, has a wide band of windows, bays for cars, a designated office area, and an ornamental sign on top of the building. The second building, the Chevrolet building, ca. 1950s, has all of the same elements except that the area for cars is inside, behind the wide band of windows. The design has been stripped of the ornamentation seen in the 1930 design, most noticeably the sign on top of the building.

Of course, these are all standard elements of a car business. In the U.S., we have certainly seen plenty of car dealerships reminiscent of the Chevrolet building. What makes it interesting is how Pierre balanced the proportions similarly from one design period to another. You might think it would be impossible to link the two very different designs to the same architect but, seeing the two drawings side-by-side it becomes, if not obvious, at least believable it is the same designer.
I've been unable to locate the buildings today, or determine if the buildings were built. Does anyone know if either are standing?
Edward D. Pierre, Chevrolet Sales and Service Building, Kokomo, Ind., ca. 1950s, perspective view.
Pierre and Wright, Rose Tire Building, Indianapolis, Ind., 1930, perspective view.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Louis Sullivan

The film showing of Louis Sullivan: The Struggle for American Architecture last night at the College of Architecture and Planning was an overwhelming success for students and members of the community who came out to see it and meet the filmmaker, Mark Richard Smith. Many thanks to Mark and our sponsors, the Friends of the Alexander M. Bracken Library and the College of Architecture and Planning, for a fascinating and educational evening. It was particularly gratifying to see the exploration of Sullivan's techniques, theory and practice using his original drawings.

It was also thrilling to see the soaring panoramas of Sullivan's detailed facades and then be able to look closely at the Chicago Stock Exchange cornice on display in Architecture Professor Michele Chiuini's exhibit DiCSX, the Digital Chicago Stock Exchange.

No one should underestimate the role food plays in any event on campus, and our Sullivan-inspired terracotta-esque cupcakes were quite a hit.

Photos by Amy Trendler and Carol Street

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Louis Sullivan film tonight @ 7:30

See Louis Sullivan's architecture as you've never seen it before--in HD and on the big screen--tonight in Ball State's Architecture Building, room 100. Mark Smith, the film's director and producer, will be here to talk about his film and answer questions after the showing. It's also the last night to see the 13th floor cornice from Sullivan's Chicago Stock Exchange, the exquisite building that sparked a preservation movement when it was torn down. To see it up close, as only the architect and builders would have seen it, is rather remarkable and gives you a renewed appreciation for building details.

This HABS (Historic American Building Survey) was made in the 1960s, before the building was torn down:

Monday, April 5, 2010

March Madness + Sullivan Fever, part five

The Indiana film premiere of Louis Sullivan: The Struggle for American Architecture is tomorrow! Expect an exciting evening that consists of seeing the movie in HD, getting up close to the actual cornice of Sullivan's Chicago Stock Exchange building, and eating terracotta-inspired cupcakes. It's all free and not to be missed. See you at 7:30 in Architecture Building, room 100.

With Butler's exciting win this weekend, we happily continue our postings of basketball-related collections from the archive. The extraordinary Ball Gymnasium, located on the campus of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, was designed by Muncie architect Cuno Kibele and constructed in 1925. The building cost $400,000 to build, which would be approximately $4.5 million in today's dollars, with money coming mostly from the Ball family. The building is designed in the Collegiate Gothic style and matches the Burkhardt Building, which Kibele also designed, the Fine Arts Building, Lucina Hall, and the North Quadrangle Building, all located in the Old Quadrangle at the southern end of campus.

The Ball Teachers College Hoosieroons (now the Ball State Cardinals) played their home games in this building until 1963, when a new physical education building was built and Ball Gymnasium became used primarily as a women's gym. George F. Schreiber of Indianapolis was the architect of an addition built in 1939. An extensive restoration renovation of Ball Gymnasium was completed in 1997.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

March Madnes + Sullivan Fever, part 4

These photographs of an unnamed gymnasium under construction come from the Pierre and Wright Architectural Records Collection. They're extraordinary photographs dating from the late 1920s-1930s, but we have not been able to determine the structure. If anyone knows, please leave a comment.

March Madness + Sullivan Fever, part 3

One of the most interesting collections of material here at the Drawings + Documents Archive is the trade catalog collection, which contains marketing publications directed to architects and those in building trades. Some of the earliest examples tout the long-lasting benefits of lead paint and durability of asbestos flooring for schools and hospitals, all printed long before the hazards of the materials were discovered.
The collection is a rich resource of ephemeral material that reflect what was valued at the time it was printed. As you might have seen in an earlier post about the mid-century concrete masonry publication, Pictorial, which highlights mid-century geometric designs with a decidely post-war American aesthetic.
We have been working on cataloging and reboxing our large trade catalog collection for the past year, and are nearly finished. It has been a year of discoveries, more of which you'll see in posts to come.
Here we have a page from a 1951 booklet of basketball backboard designs from the J.E. Porter Corporation, based out of Ottawa, Illinois. The first few pages of the book describe the differences between backboard designs and height regulations for grade school, high school, college, and professional basketball courts. The single pedestal backstop shown in this drawing is meant for college-level teams.